Michael Rothberg – Inheritance Trouble: Migration and Transcultural Holocaust Memory in Contemporary Germany

Event Date: 23 February 2017

Windsor Auditorium
Royal Holloway
University of London
Egham, Surrey
TW20 0E

David Cesarani Holocaust Memorial Lecture 2017

Professor Michael Rothberg (UCLA) – Inheritance Trouble: Migration and Transcultural Holocaust Memory in Contemporary Germany

The Holocaust Research Centre is delighted to be joined by Professor Michael Rothberg, Professor of English and Comparative Literature and 1939 Society Samuel Goetz Chair in Holocaust Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, for this year’s David Cesarani Holocaust Memorial Lecture. This annual lecture series takes place around Holocaust Memorial Day (although at a slightly later date this year) and is in memory of our late colleague, Professor David Cesarani.

Professor Rothberg’s talk is entitled ‘Inheritance Trouble: Migration and Transcultural Holocaust Memory in Contemporary Germany.’
Since the end of the Cold War, prominent intellectuals and institutions have placed memory of the Shoah at the center of German and European identity, but that project appears to some Europeans as threatened by the presence of millions of citizens and residents who are allegedly “foreign” to the Holocaust. As the population of Europe shifts, both through the “natural” sequence of generations and through mass migration, the continent, we might say, is experiencing a form of inheritance trouble. How can Holocaust memory be transmitted in such circumstances? In this lecture, Michael Rothberg considers migrant engagement with the Holocaust in contemporary Germany. The works of art, literature, and performance by migrants and postmigrants that he will discuss model alternative ways of remembering the Holocaust in the twenty-first century and suggest the possibility of more encompassing, transcultural understandings of German and European identity.

Michael Rothberg is 1939 Society Samuel Goetz Chair in Holocaust Studies and Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles. From 2001-2016 he taught at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he chaired the Department of English (2013-2016) and directed the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory (2003-2009) and the Initiative in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies (2009-2016). His work has been published in such journals as American Literary History, Critical Inquiry, Cultural Critique, History and Memory, New German Critique, and PMLA, and has been translated into French, German, Hungarian, Polish, and Spanish. His latest book is Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization (2009), published by Stanford University Press in their “Cultural Memory in the Present” series and forthcoming in French and Polish translation. He is also the author of Traumatic Realism: The Demands of Holocaust Representation (2000), and has co-edited The Holocaust: Theoretical Readings (2003; with Neil Levi) as well as four journal special issues: Noeuds de Mémoire: Multidirectional Memory in Postwar French and Francophone Culture (Yale French Studies, co-edited with Debarati Sanyal and Max Silverman); Between Subalternity and Indigeneity: Critical Categories for Postcolonial Studies (Interventions, co-edited with Jodi A. Byrd); States of Welfare (Occasion, co-edited with Lauren M.E. Goodlad and Bruce Robbins); and Transcultural Negotiations of Holocaust Memory (Criticism, co-edited with Stef Craps). Together with Yasemin Yildiz he won a 2011-2012 ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowship for a co-authored book on immigration and Holocaust memory in contemporary Germany. Another book, The Implicated Subject: Beyond Victims and Perpetrators, is under contract with Stanford University Press.

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